Supreme Court Rules on GOP Challenge Against House Proxy Voting


OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on a Republican challenge to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s proxy voting rules that she implemented during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday, the court turned down an appeal from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to revisit the issue after lower courts had also rejected the appeal, according to The Hill, “which claimed that allowing members to cast floor votes without being physically present in the chambers is unconstitutional.”

The outlet noted further:

The Supreme Court on Monday did not explain the decision not to take up the case nor did it provide a tally of how many justices voted against hearing it.

McCarthy asked the high court in September to review a decision from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals that found that federal courts do not have jurisdiction to hear such disputes between lawmakers over legislative procedure.

“Indeed, we are hard-pressed to conceive of matters more integrally part of the legislative process than the rules governing how Members can cast their votes on legislation and mark their presence for purposes of establishing a legislative quorum,” D.C. Circuit Judge Sri Srinivasan wrote in a decision for a unanimous three-judge panel.


McCarthy, along with 160 other House Republicans, filed suit against Pelosi in May 2020 arguing that the vote-by-proxy scheme was unconstitutional and broke the precedent of holding in-person votes even during times of national crisis.

“It is simply impossible to read the Constitution and overlook its repeated and emphatic requirement that Members of Congress actually assemble in their respective chambers when they vote, whether on matters as weighty as declaring war or as ordinary as naming a bridge,” the GOP lawmakers said in their lawsuit.

However, as the case made its way through the courts, several Republicans grew used to the practice and dropped their names from the suit.

“In light of the pandemic and advances in modern technology, the House has reasonably authorized Members to vote remotely by providing binding, precise instructions to a Member on the floor. That choice accords with the Constitution,” Pelosi said in announcing the policy in 2020.

A spokesman for McCarthy did not immediately respond when asked for comment regarding the high court’s decision.

But McCarthy himself has vowed to eliminate proxy voting if Republicans take over the House majority next year.


“I think people should show up to be paid. I think people should work together across the aisle. And if you’re here, that’s when you can make that happen. And fortunately, in the next year we’ll change that,” McCarthy said at a press conference in the Capitol last week.

In another decision, the high court agreed to hear challenges to race-based admission policies in higher education, as The Hill noted in a separate report:

The case arose after a conservative-backed group, Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), sued Harvard and the University of North Carolina, alleging the schools illegally discriminate against Asian American applicants.

The court’s announcement came in a brief order without noted comment or dissent. The cases, which have been consolidated, are expected to be heard during the court’s next term, which begins next fall. 


The move rebuffed the Biden administration, which last month had asked the justices to turn away the challenge to Harvard University, arguing that the school’s admissions practices were lawful. 

Conservatives have regularly argued that using race as an admission factor is a blatant violation of the Constitution’s equal protection clauses as well as civil rights legislation expressly prohibiting the practice.

SFFA asked the court to overturn Grutter v. Bollinger, a 2003 decision allowing colleges to use race to ensure a more diverse student body.

“Grutter’s core holding — that universities can use race in admissions to pursue student-body diversity — is plainly wrong,” the group wrote in its petition for appeal.

Test your skills with this Quiz!